Personality is an important part of your productivity style. I touched on this last month when discussing the DISC profiling (check that out here if you missed it). Another key part of your productivity style is the way in which you manage goals and time. Unsurprisingly, both goal and time management are critical to your productivity.
If you want to be really productive, you need to ask yourself some questions and be honest with yourself when answering them.
Goals and Deadlines
1. Do you find you are motivated by goals? Most people are, but as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry famously said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish” so you do need to have a plan in place to achieve the goal and that plan needs to be in a format that motivates and enthuses you. So now we have to consider deadlines. And more importantly, do deadlines motivate you or are you more like Douglas Adams who famously stated “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”
2. If you are more like me (I work at my absolute best to deadlines) then setting yourself deadlines and breaking down plans into smaller chunks, each with its own deadline, will work well. Non-urgent work tends to get put off if you are a deadline-oriented person, so it can help to set an artificial deadline. Putting the deadline in the diary can help you to stick to it.
An accountability partner can really help with deadline management as well. Particularly if you tend toward the Douglas Adam’s view of deadlines since you have to report back on your success (or otherwise) in completing the task. In general, most people don’t like to report a failure so this tends to get you moving and increase your productivity. Your VA can also keep you on track too, by reminding you of looming deadlines, or taking some of the routine work off your hands so that you can concentrate on the aspects that you love and are best at.
3. Does a distant, or large goal motivate you and make you want to be more productive? Or does it seem far off and something you can tackle later… Do you tackle that task eventually or really struggle to find it relevant when the deadline gets closer because you have now moved on to some new idea?
4. Do you tend to get caught up in new ideas which take you away from the goal you were working on? In other words, are you a fourteen ideas before breakfast kind of a person and struggle to complete them all (usually because another fourteen occur to you the next day) or do you tend to doggedly work on a few key ideas that you’ve thought through and feel will move the business forward toward a set goal in the most effective way?
5. Finally, what motivates you? Do you work fast to get finished so you can spend time with family? Do you work methodically because you really want the thing to be completely perfect? Are you motivated by what others think of you? Do you need external validation in order to believe you have done a great job?
Such a huge subject but you can boil this one down to a few key questions.
- Do you deal with things in priority order, or do you tend to deal with things on the basis of who is yelling the loudest about the deadline or task?
- Do you plan out your day, or tackle tasks as they come in?
- Do you like keeping a diary and marking out times to carry out certain tasks, or does this stifle your creativity and make you anxious?
- Do you find it easy to keep track of your activities and appointments and hate being late? Or do you tend to forget appointments unless prompted and need someone to deal with this aspect for you and ensure you are reminded of where you should be?
- Do you have good awareness of time? By this I mean, do you tend to get lost in tasks and not notice how long you’ve been engaged in them? Or do you find it easy to keep track of time, always aware of how much time has elapsed?
- Are you more often than not slightly late for things? Or are you a stickler for being on time and tend to arrive a little early, or leave extra time for travel in case a UFO lands on the M1 and causes a tailback?
- Finally, do you thrive on being busy, or does it make you feel super stressed and upset if you have a lot of different tasks to do in one day?
Armed with the answers to these questions you have a much better idea about how best to track your day, divide it up (if that’s your preferred approach), motivate yourself to complete tasks and ensure you complete the right tasks at the right time.
Some of these time management challenges can be solved easily alone, others may require a bit more help.
For example, if you prefer to tackle tasks as they come in but are finding key tasks are getting left which is stressing you out, you might try to tackle certain key tasks regularly, perhaps daily. Perhaps adding these to the diary. You could then tackle other tasks, as they come in, fitting them around the key tasks.
If you are a person who tends to get caught up in routine tasks such as ensuring your emails and letters are perfect, or taking seven hours to write a blog, but you can whip through more specialist or client-facing tasks very quickly, then outsourcing the routine tasks and content creation might be a good solution for you.
Remember, you don’t have to do everything yourself. An important element of time management is knowing what you should do yourself and what would be more quickly or effectively completed by someone else.
If you’d like to find out more about increasing YOUR productivity, keep checking back to read the rest of the series. In the meantime, if you are struggling with your workload or productivity, remember:
Doing what you are best at + Outsourcing tasks that don’t bring in money = Peak Productivity.
That’s the secret formula that allows my clients to sleep at night, spend time with family and earn more money. If you’d like some of that, give me a call.